Havana is filled with musical Cubans eager to delight any audience with the sounds and rhythms that make up the heartbeat of Cuba.
The island nation spends 10% of its annual budget on education, compared with 4% in the United Kingdom and just 2% in the US. School attendance is compulsory from ages 6 – 16 (or the end of basic secondary education) and all students, regardless of age or sex, wear school uniforms with a color denoting grade level.
Multiple hours per week is required for music education from pre-school through 7th grade – compared to less than 1 hour in American elementary schools.
According to the World Bank, with the notable exception of Cuba, “no teaching faculty in the region can be considered to be of high quality when compared to global parameters.” The financial institution also notes that, “today, no Latin American school system, with the possible exception of that of Cuba, has the high standards, strong academic talent, high or at least adequate salaries and high degree of professional autonomy that characterizes the world’s most effective educational systems, such as those of Finland, Singapore, Shanghai (China), the Republic of Korea, Switzerland, the Netherlands and Canada.”
John Lennon Park
John Theodore Lennon Park or Parque John Theodore Lennon (previously known as Parque Menocal) is a public park located in the Vedado district in Havana.
Sitting on one of the benches of the park is a sculpture of the Beatles member John Lennon, sculpted by Cuban artist José Villa Soberón. There is an inscription reading: “Dirás que soy un soñador pero no soy el único” John Lennon, in English:, “You may say I’m a dreamer, but I’m not the only one,” from the song “Imagine.”
The sculpture of Lennon is missing his signature round-lens glasses, which have been stolen and/or vandalized several times. During the day, a security guard sits next to the bench, and he will place glasses on the statue if requested.
The statue was unveiled on 8 December 2000, the 20th anniversary of Lennon’s murder in New York City.
Wander down a street in any Cuban city and you’ll likely come across something just like this: